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December 10, 2010

For More Information Contact

  • Brian Stanley, environmental health manager, Cumberland Plateau Health District 276- 889-7621


(TAZEWELL, Va.) – The Tazewell County Health Department received confirmation December 9, 2010 that a miniature horse from the Goose Creek Estates area of North Tazewell tested positive for the rabies virus. This is the eighth confirmed case of animal rabies in Tazewell County this year and the ninth within the Cumberland Plateau Health District, which includes the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell.

According to Brian Stanley, environmental health manager of the Cumberland Plateau Health District, a local veterinarian notified the Health Department that the miniature horse died late evening on Friday, Dec. 3 or early morning on Saturday, Dec. 4, with possible signs and symptoms of rabies infection. Possible human and animal contact to the horse is still under investigation.

How and when this horse contracted the rabies virus is unknown. The Health Department asks residents in this area to be diligent and observe their pets and livestock for any wounds and/or strange behavior. If noted, please have the animal examined by a veterinarian to determine if the animal is showing signs and symptoms of the rabies virus.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” noted John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, health director for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. “This underscores how important it is that we vaccinate our valued animals against the rabies virus. Rabies is a fatal disease. It can be prevented with vaccinations prior to symptoms developing, but once symptoms begin, it cannot be cured.”

To report any other suspicious animal please contact the Tazewell County Health Department at 276-988-5585 or the Tazewell County Animal Control Office at 276-988-4160.

The Department of Health urges people to help prevent the spread of rabies in our community.

  • Vaccinate your pets, it’s a good idea AND it’s the law! Dogs and cats may be exposed to a rabid wild animal without the owner’s knowledge. Your pet has a much higher chance of surviving an exposure to a rabid animal if it has been inoculated. Code of Virginia, Section 3.2-6521 requires that dogs and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccination against rabies is not a one-time shot. The vaccine must be administered every one or three years depending on the vaccine used.
  • Vaccinate your livestock. Many residents are unaware that livestock such as cows and horses can be vaccinated against the rabies virus. For more information, contact your local veterinarian.
  • Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
  • Be wary of any domestic or wild animal displaying unusual or suspect behavior. Report animals acting strangely or altercations between animals to Animal Control or the Health Department
  • If bitten by a wild or stray animal or a pet that is acting strangely, wash the wound immediately and thoroughly with soap and water—preferably for 10 minutes, apply antiseptic, seek medical attention immediately and report the incident to Animal Control or the Health Department.
  • If someone is bitten by a wild animal or any animal for which the owner is unknown, make a reasonable attempt to confine the animal. If confinement is not safely possible, try to watch the animal until the Animal Control officer arrives. Notify the Animal Control officers or the Health Department immediately so the animal can be captured if necessary.
  • If a cat, dog or other mammal is bitten by or exposed to a potentially rabid animal, contact your local Animal Control Office or the Health Department.

For more information concerning rabies, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s Rabies Control and Prevention web site at or call the Tazewell County Health Department at 276-988-5585.


Last Updated: 07-30-2011

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